How To Spend Your Time In Bangkok’s Lumphini Park
Bangkok is often awarded the title of ‘concrete jungle’, and deservedly so. Frantically busy streets are lined with narrow sidewalks thoroughly peppered with street vendors. This leaves precious little room for garden plots and trees to be allocated to. Due to this, it’s no wonder that visitors are naturally drawn towards the large green square on a map of central Bangkok. Formerly the property of royalty in the 1920’s, then becoming a public space after WWI, Lumphini Park is a haven for those looking to escape from the howling traffic and endless buildings of Bangkok.
For some tourists, a day in Lumphini Park means nothing more than lazying about on a soft expanse of grass and watching the stray cats and dogs mill about. There’s no shame in relishing the simple pleasure of sitting beneath a tree and watching the world pass you by. However, others may fancy something a bit more stimulating. When it comes to recreational activities and interesting sights, Lumphini Park delivers in spades.
King Rama VI Entrance
While Lumphini Park has a myriad of smaller entrances bordering the perimeter of its premises, the main gate lies on the intersection of Silom and Rama IV, next to Saladaeng BTS. Preceding the entrance is a large, tiled plaza with trimmed lawns. The immediate draw here is the statue of King Varjiravudh, also known as King Rama VI. Garbed in standard ceremonial clothing and armed with a sword, the statue sits atop a high plaque with fountains on either side.
Many media events are held here so it isn’t uncommon to see local television programs getting filmed in front of the monument. If you’re looking for food, the main gate is the best place to obtain it. There’s usually a line of food near the entrance where you can buy omelets, fresh fruit, papaya salad, and coconuts.
You won’t have to travel far from the entrance before encountering one of the man-made ponds. The two largest ponds are connected via little tributaries which flow under walking bridges. Gazing across the calm waters, you’ll likely notice little pedal boats in the likeness of swans milling about. Jealously will no doubt flare up inside you upon seeing the fun those couples are having. Luckily, renting a boat in Lumphini Park is both simple and cheap.
There are docks along the edge of each pond with an assortment of three different boats to choose from. You’ll probably want to operate the aforementioned swan boat, but if that’s not your style you can still choose either a non swan-shaped pedal boat or a conventional canoe. The rate is only 40 baht for one hour. Enjoy your time drifting perilously close to one of the many fountains or a family of monitor lizards, all for the price of a plate of fried rice.
Concerts And Events
If you’re lucky, you may catch a concert during your afternoon in Lumphini. Walk straight ahead one hundred meters from the main gate, and you’ll see dozens of large, flat rocks sprawled amongst a grove of palm trees. Look beyond them and you’ll notice a colorful pavilion. This general area is host to a range of spontaneous events. You generally won’t find information on most events online so attending one usually comes down to luck or word-of-mouth.
One exception to this is the Concert In The Park annual event. Every Sunday afternoon, from December to February, features a free concert put on by the Bangkok Symphony Orchestra Foundation. Also, if you’re in town between January 14-18, make it a priority to browse the Thailand Tourism Festival. During this time, each section of Lumphini Park is transformed into a Thai cultural village based on each of the five regions of Thailand. The festival is jam packed with performances of all kinds and the biggest variety of Thai food you’ll find anywhere.
Playgrounds And Outdoor Gyms
If you’re traveling with kids, then you know better than anyone how vital it is for them to burn off their seemingly endless amounts of energy. Look no further than Lumphini Park’s playgrounds. Public playgrounds are a rarity in Bangkok so take advantage of the opportunity to let your kids romp about whenever possible. Just be aware that these playgrounds are very popular and thus quite packed.
If playgrounds aren’t macho enough for your tastes then perhaps you’ll find the outdoor gyms more suitable. While the equipment is in poor condition, and there are usually not enough weights to lift particularly heavy, it’s still a great way to fraternize with the locals. There are two different gyms. The gym that lies west of the main gate charges a foreigner fee of 50 baht per session. The other gym, to the east of the gate, requires you to procure a membership before pumping iron. Speaking of which…
Snagging yourself a year-long membership at Lumphini Park will open up a boatload of options otherwise unavailable. The membership fee is only 40 baht, but you will also need to provide your passport and a declaration of health which can be attained from any hospital or clinic in Bangkok. Although this option may be better for a long-term stay in Bangkok, it’s worth consideration for anyone who can procure a declaration of health without much hassle.
With a membership you gain access to an indoor swimming pool, tennis courts, and basketball courts. Just be sure to verify public access hours before using these facilities. Along with access to the previously mentioned outdoor gym, you can also escape from the heat with the air-conditioned workout facility. It comes replete with stationary bikes, treadmills, and various lifting machines.
The ultimate way to kill time and calories in Lumphini Park is with dance aerobics. There are two locations to get your groove on, and when the music starts bumping it will be hard not to find them. One session takes place just inside the King Rama VI monument gate while the other is in front of the concert pavilion. Loads of participants, inclusive of all ages and genders, square up in front of instructors who guide them through the motions to an array of upbeat pop songs. If you’re not sweating and breathing hard by the end, then fear not. The dance sessions are always doubled up, so wait fifteen minutes and you’ll be back to jamming harder than ever.
Something For Everyone
Lumphini Park offers a little something for everyone and it’s the perfect way to spend a day between temple visits and trips to Pattaya. Whether you’re younger, older, or traveling on a budget, you’ll be hard-pressed not to find an activity to your liking. From lazying about in a pedal boat to catching a fierce session of dance aerobics, you’ll quickly realize why locals flock to the park in droves. When you find yourself in the concrete jungle of Bangkok, take a chance with Lumphini Park. You won’t regret it.
Written By Connor Hagetry